Oneida Nation to appeal judge's ruling in Big Apple Fest permit dispute

ONEIDA, Wis. (WBAY) - The Oneida Nation is appealing a federal judge's decision in a dispute between the tribe and Village of Hobart over Big Apple Fest.

In March, U.S. District Court Chief Judge William Griesbach issued a decision that concluded the Oneida Nation would be subject to the Village of Hobart's Special Events Permit Ordinance for Big Apple Fest, which is held each September.

The Oneida Nation filed a suit challenging the legal authority of the Village of Hobart to enforce the Special Events Permit Ordinance against the Oneida Nation. The Oneida Nation says the land is within the 1838 boundaries for the Oneida Reservation. The tribe says it is federally recognized and not subject to state and local regulations.

Hobart claims that the 1838 treaty boundaries are no longer intact. The village says that allows it to enforce the permit ordinance to "protect the health, safety, and welfare of its residents and the public."

The Village of Hobart filed a motion saying a 1933 federal court decision ruled "the Oneida Reservation was disestablished and that the Nation is collaterally estopped from relitigating its status."

Judge Griesbach concluded that the reservation had not been disestablished, but "has been diminished such that the Village may enforce the Ordinance on those lands not held in trust by the United States for benefit of the Nation."

Griesbach writes, "I conclude that the Treaty of 1838 created the Oneida Reservation. I also conclude that, while there is no evidence of congressional intent to disestablish the Reservation, Congress’s intent to at least diminish the Reservation is manifest in the Dawes Act and the Act of 1906."

The judge also ruled against Hobart's request for monetary damages.

On May 22, the Oneida Nation announced it was appealing Judge Griesbach's order in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

"Judge Griesbach committed reversible errors of law, and the Oneida Nation is confident his decision will be overturned," reads a statement from the Oneida Nation.

The tribe argues that U.S. Congress never diminished the reservation.

The Oneida Nation says the judge's ruling could have "highly disruptive and far-reaching impacts."

Chairman Tehassi Tasi Hill says “The Nation remains dedicated to the principle that it and its members are subject to federal and tribal regulation within its undiminished Reservation, not regulation of local governments. The Nation will stand on that principle in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.”